The long weekend at Woodbine played out to a cool finish by Unzip Me in the Royal North Stakes on civic holiday Monday. With regular rider Joe Talamo at Woodbine for the mount, the money piled onto the speedy four year-old daughter of City Zip who went to post as the 4-5 favourite.
Joe Talamo and the classy Unzip Me following their victory in the Royal North at Woodbine
Unzip Me was content to stalk the early speed of New-York based Linda Rice trainee Mother Russia in the six furlong turf tilt. Mike Luzzi steered Mother Russia through fractions of 22.37 and 44.83 but was overtaken by Unzip Me midway down the stretch and the California invader would hit the wire in 1:08.05. A game Mother Russia held on for place while Woodbine local Mullins Beach rallied for show.
This was a welcome victory in new surroundings for Unzip Me who has now won five of six starts in 2010 for trainer Marty Jones.
"When we put her on the grass, she seemed to turn on," said Jones. "I think she can go further, too, at some point. She has trouble running on turns and that was one of the reasons we came up here because it has the big, wide turn. She really seemed to enjoy it."
Unzip Me wins the G3 Royal North Stakes
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Woodbine locals were thrilled on Sunday by the exceptional speed of Essence Hit Man who set the pace in the G2 Amsterdam at Saratoga before giving way in the stretch to the tough Discreetly Mine.
Essence Hit Man a speedy second at Saratoga in the Amsterdam
Jockey Chantal Sutherland and Essence Hit Man raced through an opening quarter in 21.45 and blazed to the half in 44.07. Discreetly Mine tracked down Essence Hit Man on the turn and the pair made three-quarters of a mile in 1:07.76. However, the Todd Pletcher trained Discreetly Mine proved to be too tough on this day and romped through the stretch to hit the wire in 1:14.27.
“The way he was rolling, I thought he was going to threaten Quality Road’s track record there for a second,” said conditioner Todd Pletcher, who previously sent out Quality Road to a record-breaking Amsterdam win in 1:13.74. “It worked out perfectly, he broke really well and stalked the main speed and looked like he was there when needed.”
An excited Essence Hit Man held for second in front of In Jack’s Memory.
My horse was pretty excited today with everything that was going on," said Sutherland. "He broke pretty strong and usually he’ll settle a little more but he was pretty excited. I didn’t want to take him off his game and he’s just naturally got speed. That’s easy for him and I liked how he felt on dirt. I could just tell in him he was pretty nervous and excited at the same time – I thought he ran a dynamite race.”
Discreetly Mine chases down Essence Hit Man in the G2 Amsterdam
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They say a picture is worth a thousand words so hopefully the video below is worth much more than that as I breeze through Saturday's Vandal Stakes won by Sensational Slam.
Sensational Slam wins the Vandal Stakes
Free Fee Lady, ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, held off a noisy late charge from Happy Clapper to earn the applause in the Wonder Where Stakes which completed the Canadian Triple Tiara. Free Fee Lady won the middle leg of the Canadian series, the Bison City Stakes, on Woodbine's Polytrack while Roan Inish captured the Woodbine Oaks on June 13th.
Here's a photo of Assistant Trainer Leroy Trotman and Free Fee Lady - no charge.
It was the third consecutive win for Free Fee Lady who chased down Bodua at the eighth pole before holding off the rallying Happy Clapper covering ten furlongs in a time of 2:03.40. Bodua would hold on for show.
Free Fee Lady has exceeded expectations for trainer Reade Baker.
“Leroy (Trotman), my assistant, did (have high hopes),” admitted Baker. “I was going to run her for a tag the first time. She only cost $25,000. I didn’t think she was that good. But after her first race, there wasn’t going to be any claiming.”
No doubt losing Free Fee Lady on a claim would have been costly.
Free Fee Lady wins the Wonder Where Stakes
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What follows is a photo essay of Queen's Plate Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack.
(As always, please double left click the photo to enlarge the photo and then use your "Back" button to return to the blog post. Enjoy!)
Glitter Rox and groom share a moment in the walking ring
Linda Rice turf sprinter Mother Russia
Hello Maggie May, I think I've got something to say to you...neigh, I don't
Unzip Me focuses her attention on a patron heading to the casino
Mother Russia would nurture an early lead...
All that glitters...
Minute Limit would need to do better than 1:08.05 to win the Royal North
What's so funny Emile?
Mullins Beach oddly prefers turf to sand
Unzip Me surges to the lead...
...and won't be caught for an easy victory in the Royal North
The happy connections make the walk to the winners circle
Unzip Me and crew in the winners circle
Awash in glory
The lovely Renee Kierans interviews Joe Talamo and the winning connections
Twitterin' Joe Talamo swarmed by his Tweeps following the race
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Keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into my Woodbine News page.